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Tony Grist

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Poltroons And Proud Of It [May. 13th, 2012|11:32 am]
Tony Grist
Judy was in a Nashville restaurant. The band wasn't American; she could tell that from their playing style. She toyed with the idea of them being Brits, but decided they had to be Irish because they had the Battle of New Orleans in their repertoire. Would Brits be singing, 

We fired their guns and the British kept a-comin'
There wasn't half as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and then they started runnin'
Down the Mississippi to the gulf of Mexico
. ?

Actually, they might. See, I know the words without looking them up. Why? Because Lonnie Donegan, "The King of Skiffle", had a hit with the song in 1959 (when I was 8). Donegan was London Scottish and a key figure in the development of British rock 'n' roll. When I hear that song I hear a tiny little piece of my heritage. The USA had Elvis, we had Donegan. Donegan was cool. 

We Brits are funny that way. Write a song about how perfidious Albion is and what surrender monkeys we are and- if it's catchy enough- we're quite capable of taking it to our hearts. Is this down to our revolting confidence in ourselves as top nation? Our well-developed sense of irony?  A bit of both, I think.  Anyway, I told Judy not to jump to obvious conclusions.

[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-05-13 11:14 am (UTC)
I didn't know that, "The Battle of New Orleans", was covered by a Brit. How odd! I also hadn't realized that it was written by Jimmy Driftwood, who also wrote, "The Tennessee Stud".
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-05-13 11:54 am (UTC)
Well, I never- I'd assumed it was "traditional".

Donegan's repertoire very largely consisted of rocked-up American tunes.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-05-14 09:41 am (UTC)
I didn't either. If asked, I'd have guessed Johnny Horton, who recorded, "The Battle of New Orleans", over here.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2012-05-13 01:40 pm (UTC)
Well, I know the words to Dublin in the Green (also seems to be known as The Merry Ploughboy) because we learned it as students on a field trip to Ireland. We all happily sang about joining the IRA as we drank our Guiness. Admittedly this was before the Troubles erupted again in the early 70s, but as you say, we Brits seem quite happy to sing anything if it has a rollicking tune.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-05-13 03:20 pm (UTC)
Well, yes, look at the success- in England- of groups like the Clancy Brothers, the Dubliners and the Pogues- none of them averse to singing about the Rising of the Moon or the Curse of Cromwell.
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[User Picture]From: brttvns
2012-05-13 04:44 pm (UTC)
That was a favourite song of my parents' neighbour (Off to Dublin in the Green) when he would roll home drunk or even roll into my parents' house as he did once - I wrote a poem about it that I'm quite happy with. I've always liked the song since a child!
Poltroon - one of my very favourite words, and one that is used too rarely, so hats off.

Edited at 2012-05-13 04:46 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: ooxc
2012-05-13 07:42 pm (UTC)
remembers that from Donegan days - also Digging My Potatoes and the Rock Island Line and My old man's a Dustman - and SKIFFLE - washboards!
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